Sunday 15 September 2019

Population boom: We will hit five million mark for first time since 1850s


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Anne-Marie Walsh

Ireland's population may be on course to hit the five million mark next year after new figures revealed it already stands at 4.9million.

The last time the population was above five million was recorded in a census just after the Great Famine in 1851.

It had fallen sharply from 6.5million a decade earlier due to mass starvation and emigration.

The latest official figures show the number of people living in the Republic grew by just over 1pc - or 64,500 people - in the 12 months to last April.

The increase took the total population to 4.921million.

All regions experienced a rise in population ranging from 0.5pc growth - or 2,600 people - in the mid west to 25,100 people, a 1.8pc increase, in Dublin.

There are now almost 1.4 million people living in Dublin, who make up over 28pc of the total population of Ireland.

Economist Dan O'Brien said the new Central Statistics Office figures suggest the population will reach five million this time next year.

He noted the figures show an identical increase of 64,000 in the year to April this year as the previous year.

"For context, apart from the Celtic Tiger years, these are the biggest increases since a 120-year period of population decline ended in 1960," he said.

Central Statistics Office statistician James Hegarty said the combined effect of positive net migration and a sustained natural increase resulted in population growth of 64,500 or 1.3pc in the year to April 2019.

"This annual increase brings the population estimate to 4.92 million in April 2019," he said.

Dermot O'Leary, at Goodbody stockbrokers, said net migration made the biggest contribution to the population growth - contributing roughly 34,000 people.

Natural growth of births over deaths added another 30,000.

In terms of the migration flows, he said inward migrants are young, as 88pc are under 44, and well-educated, as 61pc have a third-level degree.

He said the biggest source by nationality is classified as "rest of the world", meaning they are non-European.

Mr O'Leary said separate information suggested Asia and South America have become an important source of migrant workers for Ireland in the context of tight labour markets for skilled workers around the world.

A total of 88,600 people immigrated to Ireland in the year to April.

Just over 30pc of them were returning Irish nationals.

Irish nationals made up almost 53pc of the 54,900 people who emigrated during the same period.

The figures also reveal that 622,700 residents are non-Irish nationals.

They account for just under 13pc of the population.

Irish Independent

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